As attention spans shrink and competition for it intensifies, crafting a message that's clear, fair, and ethical is crucial. Raphaelle Moatti is focused on respectful communication as the key to shifting global dining habits with Delicious Future, a public benefit corporation in Oakland, Calif., promoting regenerative eating. This holistic approach to well-being aims to benefits individuals and communities through healthy, natural food that is grown in ways that restore, rather than deplete, the Earth.
It’d be easy to scare people with data, like the United Nations report that predicts that 90% of the world’s topsoil will be degraded by 2050, if current farming practices continue. Or that by the same year, if the planet’s population reaches 9.6 billion inhabitants, we’ll need three Earth’s worth of food to feed them.
But instead of lecturing, guilting, scaring or shaming, Moatti’s trying to make the complex issue of how our food choices impact climate change more digestible and fun. That could help the 50% of consumers who according to a 2022 McKinsey study have trouble understanding what to do to eat more sustainably and healthily.
“I don't think you can bring anyone into anything through fear,” Moatti says. “Who’s going to want to do something because they're forced to? Generally, none of us.”
Delicious Future’s most visible initiatives include hosting gourmet dinners with professional chefs serving up regenerative cuisine (oysters, clams, mussels, beef from dairy cows, seaweed, hemp, and more) to the creation of the Regenerative Cuisine Awards (the “Reggys”), which encourage the integration of sustainable practices in kitchens. (The first is slated for 2025.)
Additionally, Delicious Future uses social media to showcase beautifully plated food, from oysters to salads to autumnal stews, to appeal to the viewer’s emotions. The aim is to show that regenerative foods can be as delectable as any Michelin-three-starred meal — and even more ethical than organic foods, because regenerative practices improve the land and water, and in turn, the productivity of fields and fisheries over time.
Moatti and team also collaborate with research institutions and other organizations to define the concept of regenerative eating and raise public awareness among foodies, farmers, and everyone in between. This year's projects will include development of an app and a cookbook to help everyday people make food choices that go beyond sustainability.
The upbeat nature of Delicious Future’s communications is no accident. It’s important, Moatti says, for the messaging to be joyful, even celebratory, but also respectful, to ease people into change, rather than imposing a top-down mandate and triggering resistance. “If you say to people, ‘No — now, you cannot eat this ever again,’ it brings up a whole slew of fears” like loss of cultural heritage or comfort food, she says.
She’s informed by her upbringing and a career in advertising, digital health, and tech. A native of Paris with Jewish, French and North African roots, Moatti began cooking at age 11 for family and friends and saw that food was a bridge that could bring people together.
At a crossroads with her career in 2022, and as the mother of two teenagers anxious about climate change, she made a bold move. She applied for and won a spot in the Design Science Studio at San Francisco’s Buckminster Fuller Institute, an organization named for the late inventor of the geodesic dome and supportive of global initiatives about climate, food, water, biodiversity, and more.
Her proposal about regenerative eating struck a chord with Fuller's oft-stated goal of “making the world work for 100% of humanity.” It also dovetailed with Fuller’s view that people were like trim tabs on airplanes — that just as the small levers have a large effect on how airplanes move, small shifts by individual people can compound and lead to bigger systemic or societal transformation.
“It’s not easy to change food habits but you can try something once for lunch, right? It’s not a big commitment, not like putting a new roof on your house,” Moatti says. “It's much easier to help people see things in a different way, so they can make the idea their own, than to be prescriptive.”
Carolyne Zinko is the editorial director and AI editor at Alphy.
Reflect AI by Alphy is an AI communication compliance solution that detects and flags language that is harmful, unlawful, and unethical in digital communication. Alphy was founded to reduce the risk of litigation stemming from harmful and discriminatory communication while helping employees communicate more effectively.